Celebrating the benefits of employee ownership

Every year, on EO Day, thousands of EO businesses and supporters come together to celebrate the benefits of employee ownership.

This year’s event focuses on growth. The employee ownership sector has grown rapidly over the past decade – and the employee ownership model can also be a great way for organisations to pursue a growth strategy.

According to the latest figures from the Employee Ownership Association, there are more than 700 employee-owned businesses in the UK.

The employee ownership trust (EOT) model safeguards successful cultures within firms, rewards staff and provides a framework for long-term growth. This, among other reasons, is why we’re seeing continued interest from clients and owner-managed businesses who want to secure the future independence of their business.

We recently supported the family law firm, Evolve Law, in their transition to Employee Ownership. Growth was a key aspect of the directors’ decision, with founding director Robin Charrot saying,  “Over the past seven years, we’ve grown the firm sustainably while bringing new people into the fold to share in our success. Our priority has always been looking after our clients and co-workers rather than maximising profit, and that sentiment has been at the core of our decision to become an employee-owned business, which will provide a platform for everyone to contribute and benefit as Evolve grows in the future.

“We could have sold the firm to an outside party, but we decided that this would not provide the best outcome for our clients or our staff. We have no immediate plans to step away from the business, so we’re looking forward to helping Evolve prosper under employee ownership while we continue to support clients with transparent, trusted advice for years to come.”

In November 2021, we worked with the Handforth-based accountancy firm Sapphire as they moved to employee ownership. Managing director Mark Connor also emphasised the potential for growth that employee ownership brings: “Sapphire is already a great place to work, but since we informed our employees, there’s been a greater buzz around the office and a real sense that our staff are more invested than ever in the future of Sapphire. This will only serve as a catalyst to all of our clients as we truly believe that this will only add to the unrivalled service they already receive.

"Day to day, nothing will change with the direction/leadership of Sapphire, however becoming an employee-owned business will help us to achieve higher levels of productivity and innovation as well as being a differentiator to attract the best talent in the industry. There’s great entrepreneurial acumen and determination within the team already, so this is only going to get better as everyone’s effectively got a stake in our business which can only accelerate our already ambitious growth plans.”

Christina Clarke, founder and owner of C21, a creative communications agency whose employee ownership takeover we assisted in June 2021, echoed these feelings: “This landmark moment for the business represents and rewards almost 25 years of teamwork, passion and dedication to supporting our clients. It also provides an opportunity for the team to take the next step in their careers and ensure our service to clients continues to strengthen and grow. With our employee focused philosophy and democratic ethos, Employee Ownership was the obvious future for our business – this will make a material difference to staff, protect the agency’s independence and commitment to clients, whilst providing the stability of a gradual and clear transition to new leadership.”

Stephen Hadlow, head of our EOT team, concluded that “as the employee ownership sector grows, the benefits of this model are becoming clear for all to see. Increasingly, businesses see employee ownership as a way to drive growth, enabling them to attract and retain talent and encourage innovation.  With businesses putting a greater focus on their employees, wellbeing and CSR, we’re expecting more and more firms to move to employee ownership models in the coming months.”

Consistent with Stephen’s comments above, we have seen a year-on-year growth in businesses choosing to become employee owned, and EOTs are becoming an increasingly popular exit strategy. As illustrated by some of our clients above, employee ownership can protect the integrity and culture of a business, whilst providing a platform for long-term growth.  

If you’re considering whether employee ownership might be right for your business and would like to know more, please contact a member of our EOT team.

Brabners in Lancashire is located at Sceptre Court, Walton Summit. If you would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please give us a ring on 01772 823921, quote “LBV” and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.  

If you would like to receive more content like this, please head to our website where you can subscribe to receive regular updates of current articles and events.